November 27, 1973
Born Nov. 27, 1973 in Hopkins, MN, noted reality television personality Samantha Harris was raised by her father, Richard Shapiro, a rock-n-roll promoter, and her mother, Bonnie Shapiro, a dancer. In 1972, her parents founded King Richard's Faire, a long-standing Renaissance fair. Because she grew up in and around show business, Harris got the performance bug at an early age. By the time she was 10, Harris was entering beauty pageants, though without her family's knowledge. After high school, Harris graduated with honors from Northwestern University with a Bachelor's in Journalism - her fallback career in case her acting aspirations faltered. Soon after college, Harris landed bit parts in "Shall We Dance?" (1996), "D3: The Mighty Ducks" (1996) and "George of the Jungle" (1997). Meanwhile, she was an intern at WCCO in Minneapolis, before being cast in a supporting role in "Drop Dead Gorgeous" (1998), which she followed with an episode of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS, 2000-15). After touring North America with "Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python," Harris had a starring role as Dawn Wells/Mary Ann in a quasi-fictional, behind-the-scenes expose, "Surviving Gilligan's Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Three-Hour Tour in History" (CBS, 2001).While Harris made strides as an actress, she managed to put her journalism degree to good use as a correspondent for various entertainment news shows. She interviewed hundreds of celebrities as the weekend co-host for "Extra" (Syndicated, 1994- ), an entertainment magazine show for which Harris opened the first-ever Las Vegas bureau. After her stint on "Extra," Harris was the solo anchor for "THS Investigates" (E! Entertainment, 2004-05), a spin-off series of "E! True Hollywood Stories." Harris also served as a special correspondent on "Good Morning America" (ABC, 1975- ), host on "The Next Joe Millionaire" (Fox, 2002-04) and occasional guest co-host on "The View" (ABC, 1997- ). But it was her co-hosting duties on "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), a live ballroom dancing competition and overnight ratings winner, that propelled Harris to national attention. Alongside smart aleck host Tom Bergeron, Harris interviewed celebrity competitors and their professional dancing partners backstage both before and after each couple performed their complicated and well-rehearsed routines. Meanwhile, Harris was a three-time cover girl for Muscle & Fitness HERS and was featured in spreads for Maxim, Self and FHM.